Kolkata, Nov 24: For the second time in four months, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s efforts to leave a mark on national politics has fallen flat.
Banerjee was left high and dry when her Trinamool Congress’ plan to table a no−confidence motion Nov 22 against the Congress−led UPA government ended in a whimper.
Minutes after Trinamool parliamentary party leader Sudip Bandopadhyay, like a loyal soldier, obeyed “didi’s” (elder sister − as Banerjee is called) diktat by moving the motion in the Lok Sabha, it was rejected by Speaker Meira Kumar for want of sufficient backers.
Nobody was surprised, perhaps not even the Trinamool MPs. The motion seemed destined to meet such an inglorious end.
While the support of at least 50 MPs is needed for the no−confidence motion to be admitted for discussions, the Trinamool’s strength in the Lok Sabha is only 19. And it did not seem to have made a serious and sincere effort to get the backing of other parties.
Banerjee for the second time failed to exhibit the high−level of political astuteness and sophistication needed for successful political manoeuvres in Delhi.
During the presidential polls in June−July, the feisty leader had taken political watchers by surprise when she rushed from a meeting with the UPA and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi to team up with the Samajwadi Party (SP) president Mulayam Singh Yadav.
The duo came up with a new list of probable presidential candidates, but the move backfired the very next day as Mulayam Singh did a volte−face and announced support for UPA candidate Pranab Mukherjee, leaving Banerjee dumbfounded.
Despite her initial firm opposition to Mukherjee’s nomination for the highest constitutional office, Banerjee was forced to take a U−turn and announce her party’s support for the veteran leader at the eleventh hour.
But the West Bengal chief minister, it seems, is yet to learn from her mistakes.
Political observers feel instead of unilaterally announcing Trinamool’s decision to move a no−confidence motion and then seeking support of other parties, Banerjee should have first tried to gauge their mood by engaging them in talks.
“Political strategy is decided on the basis of the ground situation, and after discussions. I may desire to bring the government down but is that enough? Numbers are needed for this,” said Communist Party of India−Marxist (CPI−M) politburo member Biman Bose.
In reality, Banerjee addressed a couple of media meets in the run up to moving the resolution and sought support from both the Bharaitya Janata Party (BJP) and the Left parties and others, saying: “The anti−people and minority UPA government should not be in office even for a day. By introducing foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi−brand retail, it is trying to rob poor people of their livelihood”.
She also offered to go to the state CPI−M headquarters here and discuss the matter with Bose, besides calling up BJP stalwart and Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj and Communist Party of India MP Gurudas Dasgupta.
As Trinamool went about the job the other way, it found itself isolated. Only three MPs of the Biju Janata Dal stood up to back the motion.
Causing further embarrassment to the Trinamool, its dissident MP Kabir Suman stayed put in Kolkata instead of attending the Lok Sabha, thus reducing the party’s effective strength in the house to 18.
Opposing the bid to table the no−trust proposal, Suman later said had it been successful, “it would have resulted in mid−term polls which would have cost the nation an enormous amount of money”.
Besides, the lone Lok Sabha member of Trinamool’s electoral ally Socialist Unity Centre of India−Communist also did not root for the motion. Its MP Tarun Mondal claimed that his party was not consulted on the move, though Trinamool parliamentary party leader Bandopadhyay denied the allegation.
Trinamool’s political adversaries were quick to rub salt into its wounds.
Leader of the opposition and CPI−M politburo member Surjya Kanta Mishra said: “She (Mamata Banerjee) went from door to door seeking support for her no−confidence motion. But actually it is she on whom nobody has confidence. It is a laughable matter.”
Former state Congress president and erstwhile minister in Banerjee’s cabinet Manas Bhuniya said by seeking help of “communal” BJP and “authoritarian” CPI−M, she had been exposed.
Banerjee, however, seemed undaunted, at least publicly. In a Facebook post, she said “the saviours of the (UPA) government are exposed”.
(Sirshendu Panth can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)